THE DEVIL’S DEVICES IV of VI – “I JUST WANNA…” – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 30

INTRO

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

TOPIC AT HAND

We now turn to our third category: delusion.  You have left ‘deep bondage’ and have begun to live in the light of the Gospel.  You have left ‘sloth’ and grace has brought you the necessary helps to move forward in discipleship.  Now what?

Our teacher gives us very good helps for identifying and living in the reality of things.

Some examples of what people say in this area:
“I just want to be a Saint and be really holy.”
“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all.”
“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual.”
“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic.”

Or something like that in other words, or even without words, with presumptuous actions and decisions.

Many people become spiritually delusional.

Massive distinction to help in this stage of the Christian life: 1) where do I want to be (a saint, really holy, perfect in every way, at peace with all people) and 2) where am I currently (imperfect in many ways).

We must have a goal, but we cannot pretend that we can live in that goal prematurely.

REALITY CHECK

For any of the statements above that began with ‘just’ (I just wanna…), there is no ‘just’.  There is no escaping the actual realities of our lives.  If we want to ‘just’ be any of the above, we have to actually engage in the exact activities, difficulties, and seemingly-in-the-way barriers that are right in front of us.

“I want to be a Saint and be really holy but I have friends that keep tempting me.”  Guess what? Dealing with those relationships well is exactly how you will be come a Saint and be really holy.

“I just want to love everybody perfectly and never have any troubles at all, but there are difficult people and things don’t always go my way.”  Guess what? How are you supposed to learn to love perfectly if you don’t get to practice on difficult people?  And how are you supposed to grow if no troubles come your way?  Who learns without studying?  Who gets better without practice?  Who gets in shape without exercise?

“I just want to pray a lot and be spiritual but I get distracted by all of the world’s stuff.”  Guest what?  “Who can love the God they do not see if they do not love the person they can see?” – St. John.  To grow in spirituality is never disconnected from growth in love of neighbor.

“I just want to experience deep interior movements of God and become a mystic but prayer doesn’t seem to go that way.”  Guess what?  The mystics didn’t just sit around and become mystics.  They had to travel through difficulties, dryness, distraction, times of great weakness and pain.

Moral of the story: To attain the goal means to travel the real road that arrives there.  We aren’t there, but we are headed there.  “Pick up your cross and follow ME.” – Jesus.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 30 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 31: The Devil’s Devices V of VI

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all of chapter 30:

Our malignant foe, thus repulsed in his first and second assault and stratagem, has recourse to a third, which is, to turn away our attention from the enemies who are close at hand to injure and assail us, and to fill us with resolutions and desires after higher degrees of perfection.

Hence we are continually being wounded; yet we pay no attention to our wounds, and looking upon these resolutions as already fulfilled, we take pride in them in various ways.

And while we cannot endure the least thing or the slightest word which crosses our will, we were our time in long meditations and resolutions to endure the acutest sufferings on earth or in purgatory for the love of God.

And because our inferior part feels no repugnance at these things in the distance, we flatter ourselves, miserable creatures as we are, into the conceit that we belong to the class of patient and heroic sufferers.

To avoid this snare, resolve to fight manfully against the enemies who are close at hand, and actually waging war against you. You will thus discover whether your resolutions are real or imaginary, weak or strong; and so you will go on to virtue and perfection by the beaten and royal road.

But against enemies who are not wont to trouble you I do not advise you to take up arms, unless there appear a probability of their making an attack at some future time. In this case it is lawful to make resolutions beforehand, that you may be found strong and prepared.

Do not, however, judge of your resolutions by their effects, even though you should have long and faithfully exercised yourself in virtue; but be very humble with regard to them; fear yourself and your own weakness, and trust in God, and seek His help by frequent prayer to strengthen and preserve you in all dangers, and especially from the very slightest presumption or self-confidence.

For in this case, though we may not be able to overcome some slight defects which our Lord sometimes leaves in us in order to greater, humility and self-knowledge, and for the protection of some virtue, we may yet be permitted to form purposes of aspiring to higher degrees of perfection.

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES III of VI – MAYBE I CAN DO THIS – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 29

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

The danger of self reliance is in full force in man.  Have you ever been in a situation where you realized, maybe by a light bulb suddenly turned on, “Ahh, I figured this out.  I know what I must do”?  Already we are in danger.

In this chapter, our master Don Scupoli describes the seeming victory, and the actual defeat.  We come to realize what must be done, and we dangerously decide how we will fix it.  NOTICE: is it YOU, or is it the LORD, who will fix this?  If it is something you will do, you have already lost.

Three points he makes for us to ponder.  1) is it a resolution, or is it a decision, that will govern our movement; 2) are you striving for a particular result, or are you engaging in the fight to gain the result; 3) are you looking to the result that you would desire, or are you looking to the will of God in this case?  The resolution gets us nowhere, but decision actually moves us.  Going for a result is according to your ideas, whereas engaging in the fight is the will of God.  Looking for your result is misguided, but looking to the will of God is the way.

In all of these, the dangerous snare is to lean on our own understanding and power.  This is always and everywhere a major mistake.  Think of it this way: Who is my Saviour? Myself? or God?  If I lean on my own understanding and power, then I am my own saviour.  Rather, I ought to look to the One who is able to do all things, God Who is powerful, steadfast, able, willing, and the rest.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 29 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 30: The Devil’s Devices IV of VI

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all of chapter 29:

When a man begins to perceive the evil of his life, and to desire to change it, the devil often deludes and overcomes him by such means as these:

Presently, presently.

Cras, cras” (tomorrow, tomorrow) as the raven cries.

I wish first to consider and dispatch this business, this perplexity, that I may then be able to give myself with greater tranquillity to spiritual things.

This is a snare in which many men have been, and are still daily, entangled; and the cause of this is our own negligence and heedlessness, seeing that, in a matter touching the honor of God and the salvation of the soul, we neglect to seize instantly that effectual weapon: “Now, now;” wherefore “presently?” “Today, today;” wherefore “tomorrow?” saying each one to himself :

Even supposing this `presently’ and this `tomorrow’ should be granted to me, is it the way of safety and of victory to seek first to be wounded and to commit fresh disorders?

You see, then, that the way to escape this snare, and that mentioned in the preceding chapter, and to subdue the enemy, is, to yield prompt obedience to all heavenly thoughts and inspirations.

Prompt obedience, I say, and not mere resolutions; for these are often fallacious, and many have been deceived thereby from various causes.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)First. Because our resolutions are not founded upon self-distrust and trust in God. But our excessive pride, whence proceeds this blindness and delusion, prevents our perceiving it.

The light to see and the medicine to cure it both proceed from the goodness of God Who suffers us to fall that He may recall us thereby from self-confidence to confidence in Him alone, and from pride to self-knowledge.

Your resolutions, therefore, to be effectual, must be steadfast; and to be steadfast, they must be free from all self-confidence, and humbly based on confidence in God.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Second. When we are making our resolutions, we dwell on the beauty and excellence of virtue, which attracts our will, slack and feeble as it is; but when confronted by the difficulties which attend the attainment of virtue, the weak and untried will fail and draw back.

Learn, therefore, to love the difficulties which attend the attainment of all virtues more than even the virtues themselves, and use these difficulties in various measures to strengthen your will, if you desire in good earnest to acquire these virtues.

And know, that the more courageously and lovingly you shall embrace these difficulties, the more speedy and complete shall be your victory over self and all your other enemies.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Third. In our resolutions we too often look rather to our own advantage than to the will of God and the acquisition of the virtues He requires of us. This is frequently the case with resolutions made in times of great spiritual joy or acute sorrow, when we seem unable to find any relief but in a resolution to give ourselves wholly to God and to the practice of virtue.

To avoid this snare, take care in times of spiritual consolation to be very cautious and humble in your resolutions, especially in your vows and promises; and in tribulation let your resolution be to bear your cross patiently, according to the will of God, nay, to exalt it, refusing all earthly, and if so be even all heavenly consolation. Let your one desire, your one prayer, be that God would help you to bear all adverse things, keeping the virtue of patience unstained, and giving no displeasure to your Lord.

Humbly, acknowledge that you are weak and feeble.  God alone is able.  Cry out with the psalmist: “Where shall my help come from?  MY HELP COMES FROM YOU, MAKER OF HEAVEN.” (Psalm 121).

God alone.

God is able.

God, Help.

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES II of VI – DEEP BONDAGE – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 28

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who is thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

This chapter deals with those in deep bondage.  They go from sin to sin and are mixed up in all sorts of unholy behavior.  They don’t have a clue about living for Jesus, or, if they do, they don’t have a care about it. The devil is having a hay day with this soul.

Is this person destined for ruin?  Left to their own devices, yes.  Yes they are.  The only hope for this person is for the direct intervention of the Lord.  In that moment of grace, they must grab it with all they have.  They must fly to God with deep cries of “HELP.”

Also, if this moment of grace appears, it is helpful to cry for help to another, someone who will enter this battle with and for them.

Finally, calling on the helpers of Heaven will be of great help for this one who is stuck in the mire of sin.

The key word for the one in this category is the ever difficult but absolutely necessary cry: HELP!  This is a word that the devil does not understand, and cannot stop.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 28 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 29: The Devil’s Devices III of VI

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all of chapter 28:

When the devil holds a man in the bondage of sin, his chief care is to blind his eyes more and more, and to avert from him everything which might lead to a knowledge of his most wretched condition.

And not only does he, by instilling contrary thoughts, drive from him all reflections and inspirations which call him to conversion, but, by affording him ready opportunities, he makes him fall into other and greater sins. Hence, the thicker and darker waxes his blindness, the more desperate and habitual becomes his course of sin; and thus, from blindness to deeper blindness, from sin to fouler sin, his wretched life will whirl on even unto death, unless God, by His grace, should intervene to save him. The remedy for one in this unhappy condition is, to be ready to give diligent heed to the thoughts and inspirations which call him from darkness to light, crying with all his heart to his Creator, “O Lord, help me; help me speedily; leave me not any longer in the darkness of sin.” And let him not fail to repeat this cry for mercy over and over again in these or the like words.

If possible, let him have immediate recourse to some spiritual guide, and ask aid and counsel, that so he may be delivered from the power of the enemy.

And if he cannot do this at the moment, let him fly with all speed to the crucifix, prostrating himself before it; and asking mercy and aid also from the Mother of God.

On this speed does the victory depend, as you will learn in the next chapter.

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES I of VI – INTRO – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 27

God’s will is for your sanctification and salvation.  The devil’s plan is to thwart both of those realities.  These next six reflections will help you understand where you are in the midst of this and what to look out for.

1st task: find out where you are in the midst of this.

1. You don’t care about sanctification or salvation.  The devil will work on you to keep you here. (deep bondage)

2. You do care about sanctification and salvation, but you aren’t interested or willing to do anything about it.  The devil will work on you to keep you here or make you give up your cares all together. (sloth)

3. You do care about sanctification and salvation, and you think you are doing what needs to be done.  However, you are gravely mistaken.  The devil will work on you to keep you here or make you go back to the first or second level. (delusion)

4. You do care about sanctification and salvation, and you in fact have been doing what needs to be done.  The devil will work on you to destroy all of this. (front lines)

Take some time to truly evaluate where you find yourself on this spectrum.  In fact, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you actually are on this spectrum.  We tend to think more of ourselves or less of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit knows exactly where we are and speaks truth and brings light.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 27 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 28: The Devil’s Devices II of VI

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all of chapter 27:

You must know, that the devil is intent upon nothing but our ruin, and that he does not use the same method of assault with all persons.

In order, then, to make known to you some of his modes of attack, his stratagems and devices, I will set before you several different conditions of men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Some remain in the service of sin without a thought of escape.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Some would fain be free, but never make the attempt.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Others think they are walking in the way of holiness, while they are wandering far from it.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)And lastly, some, after having attained unto holiness, fall into deeper perdition.

We will discourse separately of each.

I GET KNOCKED DOWN… BUT I GET UP AGAIN! – THE SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 26

What does a child do when another child knocks him down?  He collapses on the floor, cries, and refuses to get up.  In some cases, he may retaliate against his offender.

What does a Christian do after he gets tempted to sin and then falls into that sin (anger, impatience, lust, pride…) ?  He collapses on the floor, cries, and refuses to get up.  In some cases, he may retaliate against the devil, who tricked him into this sin.  At least, that is what a ‘childish’ Christian does.

You see, just as we ‘grow up’ physically, mentally, emotionally, academically, career-wise, and otherwise, we are also supposed to ‘grow up’ spiritually.  We should not react as a mature Christian the way we reacted as children.  But so often that is the case.  Our leader gives us such training in this chapter on what to do after we get knocked down.

In essence, after ‘another child’ knocks him down (or more accurately, after he trips over his own feet), a Christian could respond like this: He gets right up again, he dusts off his clothes, he forgives whatever needs forgiving, and he moves forward with a peace about him that leads one to wonder if anything even went wrong in the first place.

What to do after a fall:
admit your fault;
beg the mercy of God;
thank Him for stopping you from falling further;
regain peace of heart;
move forward in the confidence that it’s over.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 1 Corinthians 13:11

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 26 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 27: on the plans of the devil for you.

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all of chapter 26:

When you feel yourself wounded from having weakly, or it may be even willfully and deliberately, fallen into some sin, be not over-fearful or over-anxious, but turn instantly to God, saying:

Behold, O Lord, what of myself I have done! And what, indeed, could be expected of me but falls?

And then, after a short pause, humble yourself in your own eyes, mourn over the offense committed against your Lord; and without falling into discouragement, be full of indignation against your evil passions, especially that which has occasioned your fall. Then say:

Nor even here, Lord, should I have stopped, if Your goodness had not withheld me.

And here give thanks to Him, and love Him more than ever, wondering at the excess of His mercy, Who, when you had so deeply offended Him, stretched out His right hand to save you from another fall.

Lastly, say, with great confidence in His infinite compassion:

Forgive me, Lord, for Your own sake; suffer me not to depart from You, nor to be separated from You, nor evermore to offend You.

And this done, do not sit down to consider whether God has pardoned you or not; for this is nothing else but pride, restlessness of mind, loss of time, and, under color of various fair pretexts, a delusion of the devil. But, committing yourself unreservedly to the merciful hands of God, pursue your exercise as if you had not fallen.

And if you should fall wounded many times in the day, repeat what I have taught you with no less faith the second, the third, and even the last time than the first; and despising yourself, and hating the sin more and more strive to lead henceforth a life of greater watchfulness.

This exercise is very displeasing to the devil, both because he sees it to be most acceptable to God and also because he is enraged to see himself overcome by one over whom he had been at first victorious. And therefore he seeks by many artful wiles to make us relinquish it; and, through our carelessness and lack of vigilance, he is but too often successful.

The harder therefore, this exercise may seem to you, the greater violence must you do to yourself, renewing it repeatedly even after a single fall.

And if after any fall you feel uneasy, distrustful, and confused in mind, the first thing to be done is to recover your peace and quietness of mind, and with it your confidence in God. Armed with these, turn again to the Lord; for your uneasiness on account of your sin arises not from the consideration of the offense against God, but of the injury to yourself.

To recover this peace, discard entirely from your mind the thought of your fall, and set yourself to meditate on the unspeakable goodness of God; how He is beyond measure ready and willing to forgive every sin, how grievous so-ever; calling the sinner by manifold ways and means to come to Him, that He may unite him to Himself in this life by His grace in order to his sanctification, and in the life to come by His glory for his eternal beatification.

And having quieted your mind by these and the like reflections, turn your thoughts once more to your fall, according to the instructions given you above.

Again, at the time of sacramental confession, to which I exhort you to have recourse frequently, call to mind all your falls, and with renewed sorrow and indignation at the offense against God, and renewed purpose never again to offend Him, disclose them with all sincerity to your spiritual father.

AT PEACE. AT ALL TIMES! REALLY? AT ALL TIMES? – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 25

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – St. Paul to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 7.

Our leader, Dom Scupoli, declares in this 25th chapter (of 66 short chapters) that there is nothing that happens in this world that should disturb our interior peace.  Ridiculous!  He must be dreaming. … Nope.  He is simply claiming the promises of Holy Scripture.  How many times does Jesus speak to us: Peace.  Peace.  Peace.  Well let’s just say that one quick search of the New Testament showed that the word is used 523 times.  That’s a lot.

But we are hardly ever at peace.  People are troubled in their conscience about what decision to make.  People are stressed about their families.  We see violence and wars and tribulations (Jesus said they were coming).  We are afflicted by bad news and disease.  We even stub our toes from time to time.  We are hardly ever at peace.  In fact, we could probably count on our two hands the number of times we have said: “Ahhh… I am at perfect peace.”

So it flies in our face when our leader tells us that we should NEVER be not at peace… we should ALWAYS be at peace.  YIKES! Really?  Is that Christian spirituality?  Yes.  Again: The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

How can this be the case?  One very clear principle: Everything that happens is allowed by God to happen, therefore we are to accept it.  Take about 3 days to try to chew on that one, it’s a whopper of a bite.  Everything.  Accept everything.

1. If God expressly wills it, we are to accept it as His will.

2. If God allows it to happen, since He works everything for our good “Everything works for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28), then we are to accept it as His allowance.

You probably are thinking of any number of arguments to prove the above false.  What about violence… what about sin… what about disasters… how could a good God allow this or that… how could a good God allow my loved one to die… am I supposed to just sit around and let the world fall apart… there are any number of arguments.

To maintain peace of mind and heart in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15), a few things already must be in place.  You must have already decided by faith that God is ABSOLUTELY GOOD and that God is UNFAILINGLY SUCCESSFUL.  If you haven’t arrived at those conclusions, you probably won’t be able to take these next steps.  But for those who have come to understand that God is God and “there is no shadow of darkness in Him” (1 John 1:5), they are ready to move down the path of interior peace: To maintain interior tranquility by accepting everything as coming from the hand of God.  Go ahead, read chapter 25 below.  I know it seems crazy and impossible and not even wise to maintain peace in every situation.  But Christ Jesus wants us to be completely at peace, so that He can come with His Father to dwell within us.  For the Lord dwells in peace.  “May the peace of Christ REIGN in your heart” (Colossians 3:15)

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 25 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 26: What to do after I’ve sinned.

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all of chapter 25:

When we have lost our peace of mind, we should do our utmost to recover it; neither is there any accident of life which should reasonably have power to deprive us of that peace, or even to trouble it.

Over our own sins we have indeed cause to mourn deeply; but our sorrow, as I have shown more than once, should be calm; and in like manner, without any disquiet, but with a holy feeling of charity, should we compassionate other sinners, and weep, at least inwardly, over their offenses.

As to other sad and trying events, such as sickness, wounds, or loss of dearest friends, pestilence, fire, war, or suchlike evils, though these being painful to nature are for the most part shunned by the men of this world, yet may we, by Divine grace, not only desire, but even love them, as just chastisements upon the wicked, and occasions of virtue to the just. For therefore does our Lord God take pleasure in sending them; and thus borne forward by His will, we shall pass with a calm and quiet spirit through all the bitterness and contradictions of this life. And be assured, that all disquiet on our part is displeasing in His sight; for, of whatever kind it be, it is never free from imperfection, and always springs from some evil root of self-love.

Keep, therefore, a sentinel always on the watch, who, as soon as he shall discern the approach of anything likely to disquiet or disturb you, may give you a signal to take up your weapons of defense.

And consider, that all these evils, and many others of a like kind, though outwardly they appear to be such, are not indeed real evils, nor can they rob us of any real good, but are all ordered or permitted by God for the righteous ends of which we have spoken, or for others most wise and holy, although beyond our power to discern.

So may the most untoward accident work for us much good, if we do but keep our souls in peace and tranquillity; otherwise all our exercises will produce little or no fruit.

Besides, when the heart is unquiet it is always exposed to manifold assaults of the enemy: and, moreover, in such a state we are incapable of discerning the right path and the sure way of holiness.

Our enemy, who above all things hates this peace because the Spirit of God dwells and works marvelously therein, often seeks in a friendly disguise to rob us of it, by instilling into our hearts sundry desires which have a semblance of good; but their deceitful nature may be detected by this test among others, that they rob us of our peace of mind

Therefore, to avert so great an evil, when the sentinel gives notice of the approach of some new desire, on no account give it entrance into your heart, until, with a free and unbiased will, you have first presented it to God, and confessing your ignorance and blindness, have earnestly prayed to Him for light to discern whether it comes from Him or from the enemy. Have recourse also, if possible, to the judgment of your spiritual father.

And, even if the desire should be from God, do not begin to carry it into execution till you have mortified your own eagerness; for a work preceded by such mortification will be far more acceptable to Him than if performed with all the impetuosity of nature; nay, sometimes it may be that the mortification will please Him better than the work itself.

Thus, casting from you all evil desires, and not venturing to carry even good desires into effect till you have first repressed your natural impulses, you shall keep the fortress of your heart in security and peace.

And in order to preserve it in perfect peace, you must also guard and defend it from certain inward self-reproaches and remorseful feelings, which are sometimes from the devil, though, as they accuse you of some failing, they seem to come from God. By their fruits shall you know whence they proceed.

If they humble you, if they make you diligent in well-doing, if they take not from you your trust in God, then receive them with all thankfulness as coming from Him. But if they discourage you, if they make you fearful, distrustful, slack and feeble in good deeds, then be assured they come from the enemy; give no ear to them, but continue your exercise.

And as anxiety at the approach of adverse events springs up even more frequently in our hearts, you have two things to do in order to ward off this assault.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)The first is, carefully to search out and discover to what these events are adverse, whether to the soul, or to self-love and self-will.

For, if they be adverse to your own will and to self-love, your chief and greatest enemy, they are not to be called adverse, but to be esteemed special favors and helps from the most high God, to be received with a joyful heart and with thanksgiving.

And though they should be adverse to the soul, you ought not on this account to lose your peace of mind, as I will show you in the following chapter.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)The second is, to lift up the heart to God, accepting all things blindly from the hand of His Divine Providence, ever full of manifold blessings beyond your power to comprehend, and seeking to know nothing further

Advent: Walk with Mary to Jesus

Posted by: Zealoussheep

The glorious season of Advent is approaching. The superabundance of graces poured forth for us in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ are so vast! We are invited to make ready our hearts and dispose them for his coming. I invite you to consider during the next three weeks some ways to intentionally seek the disposition of heart that will allow Christ’s coming to bear fruit in our souls. Then, come November 30th, I invite you to put those intentional plans into action out of love for your humble Redeemer. Then, as the great drama comes to its pinnacle in the late evening hours of December 24th, not only will you find yourself immersed in festive lights, colors and attire, but you will also find that His LIFE has been born in you in more plentiful ways than ever before.

I will share one of my plans and invite you to journey with me. I intend to walk with Mary to Christmas. Why? Because Mary is the preeminent model of a perfectly disposed heart!

And who was the best disposed for the coming of the Word to earth? Without any doubt, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the moment when the Word came into this world, He found Mary’s heart perfectly prepared, and capable of receiving the Divine riches which He willed to heap upon her. – Christ in His Mysteries, Abbot Marmion, O.S.

I can’t think of anyone better to assist me in preparing my heart than Mary! To facilitate this journey, I plan to reread Walking With Mary by Dr. Edward Sri this Advent.

Walking-with-Mary

This book is one that I can see myself reading over and over again because of its spiritual riches and the light it pours into crevices of Mary’s life I had not previously considered. Join me! Let’s walk together with Mary toward her Son this Advent. May our hearts be tilled soil, readied to receive the Word of Life as Mary did in Nazareth.

Finish the Phrase: If You Can’t Say Something Nice… – The Spiritual Combat, 24.

The Spiritual Combat

Posted by: EvangelicalDisciple

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 24: Of the Way to Rule the Tongue (text at bottom)

…Then don’t say anything at all.

Our teacher is telling us to be quiet.  The counsel flies in the face of our tendencies today, but let’s hear him out.  If the goal is discourse with God and holiness, let’s see which serves these goals.
Talking or Praying: Talking to another may lead me to my goal, or it may lead me away from my goal.  Praying leads me to my goal.
Talking: It may lead to gossip, slander, immorality, idleness, laziness, avoidance of actual duty, self-indulgence, self-praise, prideful speech, foulness, speaking in vain against God.  If all of that is avoided, talking is good.
Praying and recollected meditation: it leads to discourse with God and holiness.

Our teacher is not against talking, he is against over-talking or mis-talking.  Or, to put it another way: he is for the use of the mouth as God has given it to be used.

Overuse of anything can destroy it (listen to a song over and over and you will become disgusted with it).  Misuse of anything can destroy it (put a plastic container in the oven at 400 for a little while and you will see).  When we overuse or misuse our mouths, we may destroy our interior life with God. 

The mouth is for communication; to let what is in the heart or mind out to be shared with another.  If we use our mouths purely, we will deepen communion with others.

But even that is not enough for our teacher.  He wants our minds and hearts to be always lifted to God.  And so it is not enough that my mouth be used purely.  It actually needs to be closed sometimes, even oftentimes, so that the mind and heart can be lifted to God.  So he pushes us forward into the practice of silence.  And when we do speak, let us speak of the glory of God!

garden4

PRACTICAL IDEAS – plan them and keep them:
one hour a day in blocked off silence. (also known as holy hour)
one morning a week in blocked off silence.
one day a month in blocked off silence. (also known as desert day)
one week a year in blocked off silence. (also known as retreat)

– – – – –

Chapter 24 text:

It is very necessary that the tongue be well bridled and regulated because we are all much inclined to let it run on upon those things which are most pleasing to the senses.

Much speaking springs ordinarily from pride. We persuade ourselves that we know a great deal; we take delight in our own conceits, and endeavor by needless repetitions to impress them on the minds of others, that we may exercise a mastery over them, as though they needed instruction from us.

It is not possible to express in few words the many evils which arise from overmuch speaking.

Talkativeness is the mother of sloth, the sign of ignorance and folly, the door of slander the minister of falsehood, the destroyer of fervent devotion. A multitude of words adds strength to evil passions, by which again the tongue is the more easily led on to indiscreet talking.

Do not indulge in long conversations with those who are unwilling to hear you lest you weary them; nor with those who love to listen to you, lest you exceed the bounds of modesty.

Avoid loud and positive speaking, which is not only odious in itself, but is also a sign of presumption and vanity.

Never speak of thyself or thy doings, nor of thy kindred, except in case of absolute necessity, and then with all possible brevity and reserve. If others seem to speak overmuch of themselves, try to put a favorable construction upon their conduct; but do not imitate it, even though their words seem to tend to self-humiliation and self-accusation.

Speak as little as may be of your neighbor, or of anything concerning him, unless an occasion offers to say something in his praise.

Speak willingly of God, and especially of His love and goodness; but with fear and caution, lest even here you fall into error: rather take pleasure in listening while others speak of Him, treasuring up their words in the depth of your heart.

Let the sound of men’s voices strike only upon your ear; do you meanwhile lift up your heart to God; and if you must needs listen to their discourse in order to understand and reply to it, yet neglect not to cast your eye in thought to heaven, where God dwelleth, and contemplate His loftiness, as He ever beholds your vileness.

Consider well the things which your heart suggests to you before they pass on to your tongue; for you will perceive that many of them would be better suppressed. Nay, I can still farther assure you, that not a few even of those which you will then think it expedient to speak would be far better buried in silence; and so you will perceive, upon reflection, when the opportunity for speaking is past.

Silence is a strong fortress in the spiritual combat, and a sure pledge of victory.

Silence is the friend of him who distrusts himself and trusts in God; it is the guard of holy prayer, and a wonderful aid in the practice of virtue.

In order to acquire the practice of silence, consider frequently the great benefits which arise therefrom, and the evils and dangers of talkativeness. Love this virtue; and in order to acquire the habit of it, keep silence occasionally, even at times when you might lawfully speak, provided this be not to your own prejudice, or to that of others.

And you will be greatly helped to this by withdrawing from the society of men; for in the place of this, you will have the society of angels, saints, and of God Himself.

Lastly, remember the combat which you have in hand, that, seeing you have so much to do, you may the more willingly refrain from all superfluous words.

 

The Spiritual Combat text: here.

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NEXT:

Chapter 25: To have victory, one needs interior tranquility

Supernaturalizing the Natural – The Spiritual Combat, 23.

The Spiritual Combat

Posted By: EvangelicalDisciple

The Spiritual Combat, Chapter 23: Other Ways to Regulate Our Senses

Sooo good, and sooo practical.

When you see something beautiful, realize that it is ugly compared to the beauty found in Heaven.

When you see the sun, recognize that your soul is more brilliant if it is in God’s grace; if it is not, it is darker than the darkest night.

When you hear the singing of birds, or any other beautiful song, rest assured that the ALLELUIA of the angels will be all the more euphoric.

When you take a step, remember that you are one step closer to your own end.

Anything that you read or hear, let it be the Lord Himself Who speaks to you.

Know that the Saints are examples of the champions.

When you see a church, know that you are a temple of the living God.

 

The Spiritual Combat text: here.

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NEXT:

Chapter 24: Of the Way to Rule the Tongue

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